Commentary: The new world
Writing this column on Tuesday, even the most worldly-wise lawyers are struggling to assess this week's extraordinary events on Wall Street on their own businesses. And come Thursday, when this column is published, they will still be asking most of the same questions. After all, seeing two of New York's leading investment houses cease to exist as independent entities would have been considered unthinkable until recently. Now Lehman's insolvency - the largest US corporate bankruptcy ever and the most significant bank failure since the international liberalisation of the securities industry in the 1980s - is a defining chapter in the story of global business. Yet leaving aside the very considerable uncertainty over the position of AIG, assessing the impact of Lehman's failure on lawyers is hard. Investment banks are middle men and so do not simply expand and reduce work levels by dint of their existence. So the impact of Lehman on advisers in New York and London is not as simple as its workflow drying up - that flow of work will migrate elsewhere, once demand resumes. Insolvency advisers, among them Weil Gotshal & Manges and Linklaters in the UK, also have the boon of picking up what promises to be one of the most complex insolvencies ever (or possibly until next week if we're unlucky).
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